Joemat-Pettersson berated for underperformance

The Auditor-General (AG) has given the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) an unqualified audit report, but has noted wasteful and irregular spending to the tune of R18,3 million.

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The AG found that the accounting officer was ineffective in preventing irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Irregular expenditure amounted to R6,1 million, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure to R12,2 million. DAFF minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson was criticised in parliament by MPs serving on the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for achieving only 17% of her targets while spending 99% of the budget.

MPs were reportedly dissatisfied with the way the minister and her acting director-general, Sipho Ntombela, answered questions and said that insufficient verifiable information was given. Salam Abram, ANC MP, reportedly told Joemat-Pettersson that she knew full well she had a dysfunctional department and would not be able to deliver.

Steve Galane, spokesperson for DAFF, said that the 17% figure was not accurate as the AG did not capture all the information. “We reached far more than 17% of our targets and our financial statements prove this.” The AG noted that in 46% of cases DAFF could not explain why specific targets had not been achieved. Some 56% of planned indicators and targets specified in the strategic plan were not even submitted for audit purposes.

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Of those that were submitted, the AG was not satisfied as to the validity, accuracy and completeness of the actual performance reported. Where under-expenditure occurred it related to important departmental weak spots. Annette Steyn, DA agricultural spokesperson, said, “about half the amount not spent by the department is attributable to the procurement of mobile veterinary clinics. This goes some way to explaining the sorry state of animal health in SA today. Clearly, Joemat-Pettersson is unfit to hold public office.”